The development and evolution of mammalian higher cognition are represented by gyrification of the laminar cerebral cortex and astrocyte development, but their mechanisms and interrelationships remain unknown. Here, we show that localized astrogenesis plays an important role in gyri formation in the gyrencephalic cerebral cortex. In functional genetic experiments, we show that reducing astrocyte number prevents gyri formation in the ferret cortex, while increasing astrocyte number in mice, which do not have cortical folds, can induce gyrus-like protrusions. Morphometric analyses demonstrate that the vertical expansion of deep pallial regions achieved by localized astrogenesis is crucial for gyri formation. Furthermore, our findings suggest that localized astrogenesis by a positive feedback loop of FGF signaling is an important mechanism underlying cortical folding in gyrencephalic mammalian brains. Our findings reveal both the cellular mechanisms and the mechanical principle of gyrification in the mammalian brain.
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